25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
In this parable we have, not a treatise on social justice, but a story about the generosity of God. All the labourers in the parable are me, all the labourers in the parable are you. The most important thing isn’t whether we have worked all our lives or only a few hours, done everything well or only a few things well. The most important thing is that in Jesus God gives himself completely to us, holding nothing back. That isn’t the way we think of course. We expect to get what we deserve what we’ve earned. But that isn’t how our salvation works. God gives himself on the cross for every one of us, and that grace is made available in the sacraments. We none of us deserve it and there is nothing we can do to deserve it, - it is simply the great generosity of God revealed and offered in Jesus Christ and his Church.
Our response to this generosity however is important. We receive love, mercy, forgiveness, and I’m not talking about the concepts, the ideas of love mercy and forgiveness, I’m talking about a person, Jesus Christ, he is God’s love, God’s mercy and God’s forgiveness and in giving himself to us, in the sacraments especially in Holy Communion we receive him, we are re-made in his image we share his life and so we must be like him. The generous gift of love mercy and forgiveness which is Jesus, calls us to be generous, to be loving, to be merciful and to be forgiving if we are to be true to what we have become.
St. Paul speaks of just how deep our imitation of God’s generosity is to be. I can honestly say as a priest that I understand exactly what he means, and I am sure that some of you will too. With all my heart I would like to be quit of this world. To have passed through death with the Lord, to be with the Lord, for all the trials and temptations and failures and half measures of this world to be over, for all the wonders, and beauty and good in this world to be seen in all their glory, to see God face to face. That would be so much to be desired because it is the very point of my life. My heart is made for God, I am made for God. And yet, I have responsibilities to you my parishioners, you have your children, your husbands and wives, we all have work to do as St Paul says “I don’t know what to choose… I want to be gone and be with Christ – but for me to stay alive in this body is an urgent need for your sake if living in this body means doing work which is having good results”.
There is an example of generosity which we share with Our Lord; we live for the sake of others. And it is a really good example given by St. Paul because in the end it isn’t a choice we make. We don’t choose when to die or when to live. The essential generosity lies not in choosing what I think is best, but in freely accepting God’s will and carrying it out. This is what our Lord does and it is what we do. If we listen for, and follow the will of God revealed to us in the scriptures and the traditions and the teaching of the Church, then as St. Paul says “Christ will be glorified in my body, whether by my life or by my death”.